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Xinjiang, BRI & ‘Islamic Card’  

Dr Ikramul Haq

As an important link of the Silk Road Economic Belt, Xinjiang is speeding up the development of transportation and logistics to connect east and west. By the end of 2017, the total length of roads in Xinjiang reached 186,000 km, with 4,578 km of expresswaysXinjiang becomes logistics hub of Belt and Road  (Xinhua/Hu Huhu)

Like the ‘Islamic Card Policy’ of the 1980s, which helped the United States and its allies to dismantle the hostile Marxist USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), the new onslaught against China through use of ploy of ‘mass internment of Uyghur Muslims’ is aimed at countering the Belt and Road initiative (BRI). The military and economic containment of China is part of a New Great Game in which the United States and allies are using religio-militant groups as proxies. It is well-established from many official documents (leaked and otherwise) that all over the world, the Muslim terrorist apparatuses have been created by US Intelligence as a geopolitical weapon—its use in Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China, is no secret.

Since China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—a mega project—is to connect Gwadar Port of Pakistan to Xinjiang via highways, railways and pipelines to transport oil & gas, the USA is using Islamic Card Policy to undermine it by funding Muslim terrorist networks to disrupt both Pakistan and China.         

Xinjiang is home to all of China’s 56 ethnic groups—Uyghur, Han, Kazakh and Hui,  each having a population of over one million (Uyghurs 48% and the Hans 37%). With diversity of land and multi-ethnic people, the region has registered remarkable annual GDP growth rate of 9.3% since 2012.

We are seeing perpetual propaganda outbursts against Beijing by the USA and others of “mass incarceration and repression of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang? It is alleged in various media reports that “an estimated 1.1 million people have been placed in internment camps, including re-education camps where, according to former detainees and other witnesses, inmates are subjected to intense political indoctrination and abuse”. There are no popular uprisings in Xinjiang as in occupied Kashmir but the same countries and media that are creating uproar for Uyghurs are completely silent about Indian atrocities that are most gruesome and unprecedented.   

The official position of China as elaborating by Li Xiaojun, Director for Publicity at the Bureau of Human Rights Affairs of the State Council Information Office, is: “we are not mistreating Muslims in Xinjiang province but putting some people through training courses to avoid extremism spreading, unlike Europe, which had failed to deal with the problem”. Two months back, Li told reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva: “What China is doing is to establish professional training centers, educational centers and if you do not say it’s the best way, maybe it’s the necessary way to deal with Islamic or religious extremism, because the West has failed in doing so, in dealing with religious Islamic extremism”.

One may not agree with the Chinese approach but the fact remains that from 2012 to 2017, a total of 1.39 million people in Xinjiang were lifted out of poverty. Since 2017, for the first time, Xinjiang has an information database for all its residents, laying a solid foundation for further efforts to eradicate poverty.

The Western media while raising hue and cry about what it called “mistreatment” of Muslims of Xinjiang conveniently overlooked the writings of many independent authors claiming that the reality on ground is quite different. For example, F. William Engdahl, in an article, China’s Uyghur Problem: The Recruitment of Uyghur Muslims to Join Al Qaeda, published on October 6, 2018, observed that “the true state of affairs in China’s Xinjiang Province regarding Uyghurs is not possible to independently verify, whether such camps exist and if so who is there and under what conditions. What is known, however, is the fact that NATO intelligence agencies, including that of Turkey and of the US, along with Saudi Arabia, have been involved in recruiting and deploying thousands of Chinese Uyghur Muslims to join Al Qaeda and other terror groups in Syria in recent years. This side of the equation warrants a closer look, the side omitted by Reuters or UN Ambassador Haley”.

The recruitment of Muslims of Xinjiang for nefarious terrorist attacks was highlighted in 2015 by Time magazine in a story titled, Is There a Uighur terrorist Buildup Taking Place in South East Asia? According to details, Alli (a 35-year-old member of China’s Uighur ethnic minority), along with six of the terrorist suspects nabbed, was allegedly part of an ISIS-affiliated terrorist ring that was linked with Bahrun Naim—an Indonesian ex-terrorism convict, who went to Syria to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. (The remaining four belong to another terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiyah, aligned with al-Qaeda). 

Why Xinjiang is being targeted by the West through ‘Islamic Card Policy’ is understandable. Xinjiang is the main gateway of the Silk Road economic corridor to Central Asia and Europe because of its geographic location. It also has considerable reserves of oil and gas, so the pipeline construction also started before BRI became a buzzword. The chances of Xinjiang becoming a regional power are so bright that it can easily increase China’s bargaining power with neighbouring Central Asian countries. This of course is a great challenge for United States and its allies. In this backdrop, it is aptly highlighted by F. William Engdahl that:

The escalating trade war against China, threats of sanctions over allegations of Uyghur detention camps in Xinjiang, threats of sanctions if China buys Russian defense equipment and further expanding Beijing’s One Belt One Road initiative all is aimed at disruption of the sole emerging threat to a Washington global order, one that is not based on freedom or justice but rather on fear and tyranny. How China’s authorities are trying to deal with this full assault is another issue. The context of events in Xinjiang however needs to be made clear. The West and especially Washington is engaged in full-scale irregular war against the stability of China.    

This is the reality of propaganda against China over the issue of “mistreating” the Muslims in Xinjiang. The forces of obscurantism and destruction (terrorist and militant networks) appear to be enemies of the USA and its allies, but in reality they are proxies. They are part of the hidden agenda to snatch away from the world its economic prosperity peace and tranquility and keep the armed conflicts going so that war industry of the West flourishes. The humanity at large is facing the most difficult time at this critical juncture of history. The brinkmanship on the part of USA and its allies can lead the world to yet another horrible World War.


The writer, Advocate Supreme Court, is Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). Email:ikram@huzaimaikram.com; Twitter: @drikramulhaq.

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